As honorary convenor of the nine-day Poetic Licence Week (September 3–11) I’d like to invite all NSW government schools to join in the celebration.
The idea is simple. There is no funding on offer, so we are looking for ways to maximise participation, preferably at no cost, by asking all poets and poetry lovers to do something that will celebrate and/or promote the love of poetry.
Teachers could, for example, start one or two lessons with relevant poems. English teachers have a wide choice while history teachers could think about poems such as Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est” or Alfred Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade”. Carol Jenkins has written poems on scientific issues and Margaret Owen Ruckert has written about food and cooking. The range of topics covered by bush verse is surprisingly large.
Older primary students may appreciate William Blake’s “The Tyger” or John Ciardi’s “About the Teeth of Sharks”, and younger children often enjoy A.A. Milne’s “Now We are Six” or Mary Ann Hoberman’s “Growing”.
Students could choose poems to read or even to write. Concrete poems and haiku can work well as a starting point for writing.
Teacher-librarians could contribute by displaying poetry books, and the preparation of suitable posters may suit some art programs. Adventurous teachers might like to hold class or inter-class slam competitions (typing “slam” into a search engine will provide the rules.
I would not wish to ask anyone to disrupt teaching programs but even a few minutes spent sharing and enjoying poetry can be a valuable and worthwhile activity for all participants.